If my grandmother’s cookies were the brand, I had the best customer experience ever.
Grandma MacFarlane’s cookies were amazing creations. (Not to be confused with the mass-produced snacks acquired by Frito-Lay, Inc. in 1980)
My grandma’s cookies were dazzling and imaginative. She didn’t have access to expensive or exotic baking materials, and she didn’t mass-produce them. She simply loved making a special batch of cookies. She was an artist, and her art was comforting.
As a kid, my family took perhaps only three vacations (roadtrips.) Money was tight, every penny calculated in advance. Extras, like a trip to the amusement park or mementos weren’t in the cards. We simply could not afford those choices.
As a young adult, I made my own choices – to enjoy a single yet spectacular meal and eat ramen noodles for a month, or turn away the one meal and have slightly higher quality ramen (with vegetables). I chose the awesome meal. That one special choice I made, at that one special restaurant, with a wonderful man I loved deeply… well it made for heady times.
Over the years, I’ve built quite a collection of such choices, snugging tighter the bonds of friendship and love. The adventures in theater, food, dancing, live music – all shared with laughter, tears or meaningful silence, these are the tiny lyrics that have sculpted my life: choices.
Most of these memories didn’t come courtesy of a big corporate brand, or mass messaging.
They stemmed from the husband and wife who made the best breakfast crepes, their cafe crammed in an impossible tiny footprint in Seattle’s Pike Place market. It came from the bus driver who was a trained opera singer, who serenaded me and my husband one summer night. The flower lady, who for years, sold her wares on a busy intersection near Lake Union – those flowers exploded with color and seemed to last forever. All these people gifted to me their special talents, and the by-products are tremendous memories and a sense of a life well-lived.
The bus driver has long since retired, the flower lady no longer sells on the corner, and the cafe I so loved has become something else. And this seems the natural order of things. Various art forms pop in and out of creation – for only a brief time, they are available for those who choose to accept, collect and treasure them.
Think for a moment about your own memories. If you were lucky enough to have choices beyond shelter, even if you didn’t have many, you probably have memories similar to my own. And I’m betting you have said both of these: “Remember that place we used to…” and “That place is still there, but it changed hands, and hasn’t been the same…”
There seems to be a longevity to these special events and places and, of course, people.
If these choices — special memories — are around all us, the taste for “one size fits all” feels empty by comparison. If more people are realizing it is possible to choose a life filled with fewer but richer memories, then it makes sense that another revolution is unfolding: the choice of the unique, which we communicate and share joyously, cheaply, instantly, globally.
So what does this mean for business?
Great news. “One size fits all” is quickly becoming a bygone concept. Real opportunities are blossoming all around. It could be that we are, in fact, all artists, with our own cookies to create. Perhaps your piece of art, put out into the world, will be the needed backdrop to someone’s memories yet to come. There will be a natural portal of opportunity to serve our creations up, and become part of this bigger tapestry.
This may seem an odd topic for a marketing professional with decades of experience to the contrary. In truth, mass marketing as we’ve experienced it, is also fading into the sunset (good riddance). While I’m a marketer, I’m also a consumer and as both, I’m looking critically at what the customer experience really is – and to make it be the best for whoever engages with the products. I’m looking for the fun, personal, genuine stories. I want to ensure in some small way the good stories go on, and that happy memories are made, if only obliquely. Consumers own the voice of trust, and we are, right now kicking off a secondary revolution of choice. This means more opportunity to support, and be supported by, our own grandma’s cookies.
We don’t need much, just ourselves and the knowledge that what we serve up trumps anything that attempts to fit “all.”